Indiana vs. Ohio State: Women’s basketball Q&A with Land-Grant Holy Land

Jan 26, 2023 - 6:21 PM
Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

No. 6 Indiana women’s basketball is set to welcome No. 2 Ohio State to Assembly Hall tonight in one of the biggest games Bloomington has seen in years.

The Hoosiers are coming off of a win over Michigan in Ann Arbor and the Buckeyes are coming off of a home loss to Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes, their first defeat of the season.

For more insight on Ohio State, we spoke with Thomas Costello, who covers the team for our friends over at Land-Grant Holy Land. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: Bluntly, what has made Ohio State so good this season? I’ve seen the high-powered offense before and they were very good last season but this is clearly a different gear.

It sounds cliche but the Buckeyes’ mantra is defense turning into offense. Ohio State’s been so successful because they play the math game: Get extra possessions and extra chances to score.

Also, their ability to force turnovers off inbound passes creates easy chances in the paint, usually with a player advantage.

They sit in the lower half of the conference from deep and missing more shots than they make, but their turnover margin is three higher than anyone else in the Big Ten. Not giving the ball away as much and having more chances to score benefits them greatly.

In the half court, they find success with extra passing. It usually happens a couple times a game where a player goes to the basket, looking like a layup attempt, and they dish the ball away and eventually find an open teammate.

Q: This team is coming off of its first loss of the season. What worked so well for Iowa to beat Ohio State on its home court?

Caitlin Clark. That worked really well for Iowa.

More specifically, her ability to turn her focus on a dime. When she wasn’t scoring early she was finding Monika Czinano who the Buckeyes, for some reason, let get in behind the defense.

When Ohio State played better defense around Clark, she sent up three-point shots from seven feet back from the three-point arc. The Buckeyes had good coverage on Clark, but there was a level she hit that makes her one of the top two or three players in all NCAA basketball.

Q: The Buckeyes haven’t dealt with a loss yet this season, what have you been able to see as far as mindset heading into this matchup?

It’ll be interesting to see how the Buckeyes bounce back. They say the right things following the game but until they hit the floor for their first game post-defeat, it’s hard to tell.

If how they handled winning is anything, it should be an even keeled response. Outside of the win against Tennessee to start the year, Ohio State never seemed to get too high after a win or low following a tougher performance.

The leaders on the active roster, Taylor Mikesell and Rikki Harris, had a tougher night than usual but they’re used to bouncing back. The underclassmen have nothing to improve upon with Taylor Thierry and Cotie McMahon each scoring at least 20 points and within a possession or two of a double-double.

Thursday will show how much buy-in head coach Kevin McGuff has built. It’s easy to stay consistent when you’re winning.

Q: Ohio State has an astounding amount of players averaging double figures, who should Indiana really worry about on defense?

Cotie McMahon. The freshman forward has all the confidence in the world and the skills to back it up. Iowa wasn’t able to stop her from attacking the basket until the fourth quarter. She was integral in the USA basketball youth women’s team last summer, with Teri Moren on the coaching staff, so she’s played with the best and shined.

Also, it’s hit or miss but Rebeka Mikulášiková is either having a tough night or dropping close to 30 points. Monday was difficult for her, but that could mean a bounce back against Indiana.

There’s also Mikesell. She has the ability to own score 20-30 points on any given night. Last season it was 24 against Iowa, in Iowa, to pick up one of only two wins over ranked sides.

Q: Is there an X-Factor in this game? A particular matchup or something of the sort?

X-Factor goes to guard Jacy Sheldon. She hasn’t played since Nov. 30, out with a foot injury, but McGuff said she’s coming back very soon. Before going out she had six steals per game in five games and averaged near 13 points per game.

Matchup wise is whoever goes up against Mackenzie Holmes. Talented bigs are the Buckeyes’ worst enemy and it doesn’t get much more talented than Holmes.

It may come down to letting Holmes have a great night but minimizing her teammates effectiveness.

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